BIORHYTHM: Music and the Body is a fascinating exhibit melding art and audio equipment to explore what music and sound are—-or can be. Created by the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin, the exhibition is currently showing in New York City at the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center through August 6. The exhibit is free and Eyebeam (540 W. 21 Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues) is open Tuesday-Saturday 12-6PM.
From the Catalog:
Why does a minor chord sound sad? Is there a formula for the perfect hit? Whistling, dancing, finger-snapping, and toe-tapping—what makes us do it? Find out when music and science join forces in an interactive bazaar of beats, sounds, and rhythm in the exhibition BIORHYTHM, created by the Science Gallery and presented at Eyebeam as part of the World Science Festival. Learn what drives sound manipulation and discover how different types of music evoke different emotions. Trace the power of an impactful pop hook in a song, measuring the way our brains and bodies react, down to the responses in our fingertips.
Here’s some of the 15 different efforts on display:
“Your ability to hear is due to the way your brain collects and processes the movements of molecules in the air. Vibrations are turned into chemical signals in the brain. This collaboration between an artist and an scientist has created a playful exploration of the world of human hearing.”
Visitors talk into the mic within the ear above, and across the room, this unusual mock-up of the inner ear reacts with lights, sounds and more.
The Theremin Inspectors V2
“Create sound without touching The Theremin is one of the most unique instruments ever invented. By creating interference patterns around the instrument, you will make music. This installation will demonstrate the way sound waves are carried through the air. It is intended this prototype project will use music to help teach the science of sound.”
An X-Box Kinect follows the Theremin player and creates different waves on a translucent screen on the opposite wall.
“Time for bed, but this is not a bed for sleeping in. Subwoofers deliver a deep and intimate sonic soundscape throughout the structure, connecting with your senses and enabling you to feel as well as hear the transmitted sound. The bed explores our very personal relationship with music. Imagine a tank full of sound—slip inside for a sonic dip.”
It looks interesting but no one climbed into the bed during the time PSN visited the exhibit—perhaps due to fears about the current bed bug epidemic plaguing the city.
“Any gallery needs some seats but beware of this one. This original 1920s chair has been reconstructed full of sonic charges. Manipulate the voltage-controlled oscillators on the control panel and you will physically experience the power of sound to your personal liking.”
This was fun and obviously rather interactive—sort of a more aggressive take on those massage chairs at Brookstone.
“This shell-like shape encapsulates you within an immersive audiovisual structure. While resonating in surround and tactile sound and delivering specially composed visuals to your eyes, low frequencies are fed through the floor converting sound into vibrations through your body. Experience your own personal surround synesthetic cinema.”
Seeing this immediately brought to mind “Dark Helmet” from the old Mel Brooks comedy, Spaceballs. Visitors stand inside the capsule, lower it upon themselves, and have sound and music coming at them from different directions while abstract videos play on a computer screen.
A stage was set up on the side of the space, clearly arranged for interviews though none were happening that day. On hand to make those events audible were, at stage-side, Sennheiser ew100 microphones, a Mackie 1604-VLZ3 mixer, JBL PRX 515 speakers and Belkin PowerSurge protectors.
An ambitious exhibit, BIORHYTHM is well worth checking out before it closes on August 6.